When I say the word adversity, what comes to mind?

For some, it may be facing a serious illness for themselves or a loved one, loss of a job, end of a relationship, struggle with mental health, sustaining a serious injury as an athlete just to name a few.

For others, the challenges might be around a positive goal but still a challenging situation such as changing careers, starting a new business, training for an athletic pursuit or simply investing in personal development.

The similar thread that runs through all these examples is the struggle we all face with ourselves as we navigate these situations. It’s through adversity, big or small, when those common fears and doubts about ourselves come to the surface. It happens anytime we’re taken off course of the norm and what we’re used to.

In fact, our brain really doesn’t like it. It likes patterns, it likes sameness, it likes preserving energy and limiting change.

This is where mindset comes in, in particular a growth mindset.

Growth Mindset

According to Stanford professor Carol Dweck in her book Mindset, a growth mindset describes people who believe that their success depends on time and effort. People with a growth mindset feel their skills and intelligence can be improved with effort and persistence. They embrace challenges, persist through obstacles, learn from criticism and seek out inspiration in others’ success.

As opposed to a fixed mindset, where people see their qualities as fixed traits that cannot change. With a fixed mindset, talent is enough to lead to success and effort to improve these talents isn’t required: one is born with a certain amount of skill and intelligence that can’t be improved upon.

So how can we use a growth mindset when overcoming adversity?

How to use a growth mindset

There’s so much I could write here but as a starting point it comes down to these 3 things:

1. Focus on your strengths and what skills you could lean on to help you get through the challenge you’re in.

    • For example, if you’re generally pretty motivated, what might you do to start feeling motivated again – regular exercise, reach out to a friend, colleague or mentor for support, do things that bring you joy?

2. Use your challenge as an opportunity to develop and grow. You might feel stuck because you just don’t know how to navigate this challenge, not because you can’t.

    • What aspects of yourself could you heal and grow,
    • What skills could you develop?
    • What coping strategies could you learn to help you right now?

3. Give yourself compassion and be patient. Adversity can bring up our worsts fears and surface self doubt.

    • You’re not struggling because of who you are or for lacking anything. You’re struggling because adversity is hard!
    • Be compassionate towards yourself as you would towards a loved one and be patient.
    • Challenges take time, emotional energy and an openness to change to overcome.
    • You’ll get there with the right support and encouragement starting from you.

Remember, adversity happens to us all and it’s never easy. But when we believe we are capable of navigating it and that we might possible learn and grow from it, it makes the difference in being able to overcome it.